Overcoming limits, shaping the future: empowering Afghan women and girls through education

AKIS Reception and conference in cooperation with VIDC, 3 – 4 May 2024

Since the drastic events in August 2021, when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, women in the country have experienced a dramatic worsening of their living conditions, which has also had an impact on life in the diaspora. In particular, the situation with regard to education, from 7th grade onwards, as well as access to universities and basic facilities such as recreational and medical facilities, is extremely worrying. Added to this is the humanitarian disaster that the country is experiencing, which is hitting women and children particularly hard.

Against this backdrop, we are organizing a two-day event in cooperation with the VIDC (Vienna Institute for International Dialogue and Cooperation) and the AK Vienna (Vienna Chamber of Labor) entitled „Overcoming borders, shaping the future: Empowering Afghan women and girls through education“.  The event will kick off with a festive reception hosted by the Mayor of Vienna, Dr. Michael Ludwig, in the Vienna City Hall basement on May 3, which will be followed by a one-day conference on May 4. The overarching aim is to raise awareness of the pressing educational limitations faced by Afghan women and girls and to sensitize people to the dramatic situation in Afghanistan.

3 May 2024, 19:00 – 21:00: Reception in the Vienna City Hall: Naan, Kar, Azadi – bread, work, freedom

  • Opening: Mayor Dr. Michael Ludwig
  • Welcome words: Ghousuddin Mir (Chairman AKIS) and Sybille Straubinger (Director, VIDC)
  • Short statements: Councillor Safak Akcay, Asiye Sel (Vienna Chamber of Labor), Fariba Sadeq (Banu-Magazin), Shoura Hashemi (Amnesty International)
  • Panel: 
    On the general situation of women in Afghanistan: Shagofa Ghafori, Afghan Diaspora Organizations (NADOE)
    Supporting girls‘ education in Afghanistan: Nargis Mommand, peace activist and education expert, former professor, Kabul Educational University
    Interview with Saghar Wafa (AKIS Women’s Chairwoman) about Afghan diaspora engagement
  • Manizha Bakhtari, the ambassador of Afghanistan to Austria
  • Video report: AKIS activities in Afghanistan
  • Presentation of the Rabi Balkhi Award for special commitment to supporting women and girls in Afghanistan 
  • Special award for diaspora engagement in Austria
  • Moderation: Friba Charkhi (AKIS) and Michael Fanizadeh (VIDC)
  • Musical accompaniment: Khadim and company, Traditional Hazara music with Rubab and Dambura

4 May 2024, AKIS Conference, Rußbergstrasse 13, 1210 Vienna

12:00 – 13:30: Workshop: Afghanistan: The epicenter of foreign and regional interventions 
Moderator: Heela Najibullah, Religious scientist, Switzerland  

14:00 – 15:30: Opening with speeches by the international guests of honor (languages: English and Farsi) 

Moderation: Friba Shamal, journalist and social media activist, Germany

Welcome words: Ghousuddin Mir (Chairman AKIS) and Asiye Sel, Arbeiterkammer Wien 

The Role of Women in a Future Peace Process in Afghanistan
Keynote address by Dr. Alema Aleman, Former Deputy Minister of Human Rights and Civil Society in Afghanistan

•    Tahmina Salik, Danish Afghan Women Diaspora Forum (DAKDIF)
•    Horia Mosadiq, Conflict Analysis Network, UK
•    Sanga Siddiqi, women’s rights activist, Netherlands, International Conference of Afghan Women
•    Alaha Ahrar, Kindness Sharing Project, USA
•    Heela Najibullah, report from the workshop 

15:30 – 16:30 Panel: On the current situation of human and women’s rights in Afghanistan: What is the current situation regarding access to education, work, health system, etc.? (Languages: Farsi, Pashto)

17:00 – 18:00 Panel: The role of Afghan women in the diaspora: How can the diaspora support women in Afghanistan? (Languages: Farsi, Pashto)

20:00 – 20:30: Presentation of the Rabi Balkhi Award

Aims of the conference

1.    Raise awareness: To raise awareness of the need for increased support by discussing educational constraints and challenges faced by Afghan women and girls.
2.    Promote dialogue and cooperation: The conference will serve as a platform to intensify dialogue and cooperation between members of the Afghan diaspora in the EU.
3.    Develop solutions: Participants will jointly discuss and develop solutions and support measures for Afghan women and girls.
4.    Build a bridge between the country of origin and the destination country: Utilizing the knowledge and resources of the diaspora to create an effective „bridge“ between Afghanistan as a country of origin and the EU host countries.

Topics of the conference

1. Access to education in Afghanistan: analysis of the current situation and challenges.
2. Education as a key to self-empowerment: Discussion on the transformative role of education.
3. Cooperation and partnership: discussion of opportunities for cooperation between the Afghan diaspora in the EU
4. Role of EU countries (Austria) and international NGOs: assessment of support from host countries and NGOs.
5. Empowerment through education: Emphasizing the importance of education as a tool for self-empowerment.
6. Looking to the future: discussion on long-term perspectives and sustainable measures.

Time and location

3 May 2024, 19:00 – 21:00: Reception in the Vienna City Hall (Rathauskeller, Salon Lehar)

By personal invitation only

4 May 2024, AKIS Conference, Rußbergstrasse 13, 1210 Vienna

Binding registration with Mr. Ghousuddin Mir: 
mir.ghousudden@chello.at, Tel.:0043 660 35445469


Program for download


Ali Ahmad und Michael Fanizadeh, VIDC Global Dialogue


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